Bosses ignored regulations before banqueting suite fire

BUILDING EVACUATED The Taj Banqueting Suite caught fire during a party on August 20 last year.
BUILDING EVACUATED The Taj Banqueting Suite caught fire during a party on August 20 last year.

Lives were put at risk when a banqueting hall caught fire after its owners ignored safety regulations.

At only the second event held in the Taj Banqueting Suite, in Wellington Road, Dewsbury, a gas main disconnected and set alight, forcing 300 party guests to escape.

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The company’s directors, Mahfooz Hussain, of Ouzelwell Close, and Mohammed Faraz, of Savile Road, were sentenced this week for 10 counts of failing to comply with fire regulations.

Judge James Spencer QC, sentencing the pair at Leeds Crown Court, said: “From what I heard you did nothing.

“You were much more concerned with your own profits and repayments of debts than the welfare of any of your paying guests.

“I am going to make sure this is on your record and that you know the seriousness.

“And, mark my words, if you go into any business again you must recognise your responsibilities.”

On August 20 last year a fire broke out in the kitchen of the banqueting suite and spread to the serving area.

Craig Hassall, prosecuting, said while guests tried to escape from the fire they found that corridors were blocked, fire escapes obstructed or nailed shut, and that the alarm did not appear to go off .

He said the fire was a “terrifying experience”.

No one was injured during the incident.

Khadim Al’Hassan, mitigating, said both defendants pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and were of good character.

He said Faraz was working at the suite on the night of the fire and rose to the occasion, making sure all the guests were safe.

Mr Al’Hassan said: “He said he was the last man out and checked everyone was safe.

“It is to his credit he made sure everyone got out.”

Hussain, 30, and Faraz, 29, invested £35,000 each in the firm through selling possessions and in unsecured loans.

Both were given nine month prison sentences, suspended for two years, and 240 hours unpaid work.

They admitted the 10 charges at an earlier hearing.

A £5,000 fine was levied on the firm but Judge Spencer said it was to recognise the seriousness of the offences and understood that it may not be paid because the company had no assets.